Updated: Sep 30, 2020
This is a classic gingerbread loaf. The core of this recipe comes from Polish Regional Cuisine (published in 1991). The recipe below is our take on this classic gingerbread cake.
You will get vibrant and golden in colour gingerbread with lovely closed-knit and moist crumb. This spiced bread matures beautifully and is good to enjoy for a number of days.
This delicious spiced loaf is sweetened with honey. The moisture comes from addition of cloudy wheat beer. As a result you get beautiful closed crumb which is moist and soft! A real treat for lovers of spices. It’s sweet and it is cake-y. After first week the loaf will turn from cake-y to ginger-bread-like texture (thinking more of original ginger-bread loaves!). For this bake we are using our favourite butter-rum glaze from ‘Sweet’ (by Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi).
For a good bake:
- Spices - if you want your gingerbread to last and taste fantastic - don’t take shortcuts and mix your own spices (if you are not up for it - use 2 Tbsps gingerbread spice).
- Zesty notes - rub lemon and orange zests into sugar to release zesty flavour. Use organic, unwaxed lemons and oranges.
- Texture - beat soft butter with sugar until pale and creamy (3min). Use eggs at room temperature.
- Beer - use cloudy wheat beer (German wheat beers would be best). I usually use Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier or Smithwick's Blonde Ale.
- Honey - bright wheat beer mixed together with bright and light organic honey will bring you closest to traditional lebkuchen/piernik flavour. Honey should have runny consistency (warm it up a little bit) and be at room temperature when mixed with beer.
- Did I mention beer?.. so, beer again - make sure it's at room temperature! Otherwise you will end up with under-baked bottom (dark line at the bottom) and texture will suffer.
- Flavour - in this bake you can manipulate the flavour using different types of beer (from wheat, ale to stout) and different types of honey. On top of that - you may opt to 'burn' honey to achieve deeper, caramel notes. How to achieve that? Melt 30g butter (this is an add on to the butter used in the recipe), add honey and bring to boil. Continue to cook (it will bubble up) for about 4-5 more minutes, until it reaches 155-160C. Take off the heat, cool down - when lukewarm, add spices and beer. Proceed then as the recipe outlines.
- Baking soda - in this spiced loaf only small amount of soda is used (flat 2/3 tsp) - it’s not a mistake. Creaming, eggs, beer - all these ingredients bring the extra volume. As a result, there is no soda aftertaste and good, closed-knit crumb texture.
Brewer's Gingerbread Recipe
Yield: 12 servings
Time: 30 min prep + 55 min baking
Tin: 10cmx20cm loaf tin (2lb) or bundt form (see jazz up options below)
- 200g all-purpose (plain) flour
- 50g rye flour (weak) - recommended but if you can't get it replace with ap flour
- 2/3 tsp baking soda
- 60g caster sugar
- 50g light brown sugar
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- zest from 1 lemon
- zest from 1/2 orange
- 165g good honey, room temperature
- 125ml cloudy wheat beer, room temperature
- 2 tsps ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/5 tsp coriander (don't skip that one!)
- 1/5 tsp ground black pepper (don't skip that one!)
- 125g unsalted butter, room temperature (soft but not oily)
- 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 80g confectioners’ sugar
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 15g unsalted butter, melted and warm
- 1 Tbsp golden rum
- 1 tsp warm water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan forced). Brush bottom and sides of the tin with thin layer of butter, line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Prepare dry ingredients: Mix all purpose flour, rye flour, baking soda and then sift. Set aside.
3. Prepare zesty sugar: In a small bowl mix brown sugar, caster sugar, coarse salt, orange and lemon zests. Rub zests into sugars - use your finger tips (to release zesty flavour).
4. Mix beer with honey until honey is fully dissolved (make sure beer is at room temperature). Add spices - ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, coriander, ground black pepper and cover with a lid.
5. Combine: Beat butter for 2 minutes until creamy (paddle attachment or handheld mixer), then start adding zesty sugar (from Step 3), 1 Tablespoon at a time and beat until creamy and fluffy - 3 minutes (scrape sides of the bowl every so often to make sure sugar is incorporated evenly). Start adding egg yolks - one at a time, mixing on medium until incorporated. Add beer/honey mixture (from Step 4) and mix on low-medium until incorporated. The mixture will split - that’s ok (don’t beat for too long, that’s they way it is to look - make sure there is no beer residue at the bottom of the bowl). In two turns add dry ingredients (from Step 2) and mix on low (paddle attachment) or use spatula, stir until incorporated (don’t over-mix). Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold in into the gingerbread batter. Don’t over-mix and try to keep as much volume as you can. Transfer the batter onto the baking tin.
6. Bake for 30min at 190C (170C fan forced), then for 25min at 175C (155C fan forced).
7. Rum-butter glaze: Sift sugar and cinnamon, add melted warm butter, rum, lemon juice and water and mix until smooth. Brush gingerbread when still warm. If you notice the glaze thickens too much - add few drops of warm water.
Jazz it up:
1. Beer and honey - bring out richer caramel flavour - swap cloudy wheat beer for stout or dark ale. Choose rapeseed flower or field mustard honey and replace light brown sugar with dark Muscovado sugar. Choose an option to 'burn' honey for deeper caramel notes.
2. Bundt Cake - you can bake this gingerbread in bundt form (10 or 12-cup). Increase ingredients by 30% (except spices - use the quantity as in the recipe for the loaf) . Brush tin with thin layer of butter and dust with flour. Bake only 5-10 minutes longer (60-65 minutes).